|THE BEAR WHO SLEPT THROUGH CHRISTMAS (nbc, 1973)|
was it such a misfit?
The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas was Ted E's debut special (unless I get more Emails after this pointing me to something else). It's much better than The Great Bear Scare, but most things on Earth are.
Just about every webpage that has info on this special incorrectly gets its release date confused with Bear Scare's (1983). The Internet is wrong for once; this special screams 70's from every cel. During the opening credits, narrator Casey Kasem uses the word "peace" in a sentence and a flower-power lava-lamp "PEACE" font instantly takes up the whole screen. Kasem explains that since bears hibernate during the winter, none of them have ever seen Christmas. I guess that makes sense. In fact, most of them don't even believe it exists -- all except for Ted E, and all the other bears think he's crazy for it.
In 1973 Ted has a modest factory job in Bear Town (which isn't what became Bearbank, because Bearbank is mentioned later on). He travels to work, he punches his card into the clock, and he sits in front of a conveyor belt pulling a lever to pour honey into the empty jars that travel along the belt. To make his dead-end employment worse, he's only greeted with ridicule from the other bears, because of his beliefs. This year, he's determined to prove them wrong and find Christmas!
Not only is Ted E. Bear here, with a Smothers' voice again, so is Patty Bear, and she also seems to have the same voice actress (though she's missing her bow). One characteristic that didn't carry over to Bear Scare is that she's into horoscopes, so when Ted E. flubs up, she scolds him by calling him "a Pisces." The flub-up I'm talking about is when he leaves the honey spigot on for about a full minute while he preaches to the other bears about how Christmas must exist and this year he's GOING to stay awake to see it, no MATTER what. So much honey gets wasted in this process that it flows all the way to his boss's office. As his embroidered wall cloth states, There's Money in Honey, and that's a lot of money down the drain. He's about had it with Ted E, and tells him to either give up his eccentric qualities -- and his belief in Christmas -- or he's fired. It's illegal to fire a human over religion, but I guess you can fire a bear.
Though the expression on Ted E's face is of shock, it doesn't stay for long, and he's completely forgotten about it seconds later. As he heads to the bus stop to return home, a news van pulls up and a bear reporter asks "which one of you bears is Ted E?" They've gotten wind of his quest to discover Christmas and they want to make it their story of the night, 'cause crazies sell used cars and mattresses. Ted is glad for the opportunity to prosyletize, but his boss is furious. "YOU'RE DRAGGING THE NAME OF THIS COMPANY DOWN WITH YOU!!" he roars as loud as a bear can. "THIS IS IT! YOU'RE FIRED!"
And now even though Ted E's lost his source of income, he STILL doesn't seem that shaken. He's focused on one goal and one goal only, and you know what it is by now. Many bears (at least in this special) treat their hibernations as vacations, taking airplanes to exotic destinations. What the point of that is, I have no idea. They're going to be ASLEEP and won't have much active time to enjoy wherever it is they're going. Ted steps up to the airport ticket counter and asks for "a ticket to Christmas," which gets him laughed out of the terminal. He sadly realizes he'll have to find it himself, alone, on foot.
But he's rigidly determined to see Christmas no matter what. Ted E. stomps through the snow for what seems like seconds until he finally reaches a big city, and a toll bridge leading into said city, manned by a man. Not a bear, a MAN. This shattered my assumption that the whole bears-acting-like-humans thing was a parallel universe. Apparently, Earth bears actually DO possess the brains to create their own civilizations. Or, at least, pygmy bears must. As Ted E walks down the streets of a vaguely New York-like city, it's revealed his height only reaches up to a standing human's knees.
Ted comes to a place that looks like Rockefeller Center, where everyone is standing still in awe of the giant Christmas tree. But Ted can't see it because the people are so tall. He comes to a store window full of moving toys that says "CHRISTMAS SALE", and he says aloud, "Maybe I've found where Christmas is at last!" But inside lies only disappointment. The toys tell him not only is Christmas not there, but the store is closing in about three seconds, and Ted will be trapped there with them the rest of the night. Meaning he'll miss Christmas! Stupid toys, why didn't they speak up faster?
Ted panics and rushes around the darkened store looking for a way out. He tries the basement window, but it's locked. Then he falls off a shelf, tumbles through a vent and lands outside in an alley. Ted is grateful he got out by accident, but still has no idea where Christmas is. Maybe that guy with the red suit and beard knows something about that.
Christmas isn't a place. Christmas is HERE!" Santa
tells him, poking at Ted E's intestines.
Whoever lives in Apartment 5C isn't very bright, because the door is unlocked and wide open. Upon entering the 5C living room, Ted E. is more confused than ever. "This is Christmas? This can't be Christmas." He obeys Santa's orders to wait anyway, and takes a nap beneath the tree.
Santa shows up again, this
time on assignment, and wakes Ted E. up.
Waiiiit a minute. He wasn't helping Ted E. find Christmas at all! He was just tricking him into filling an order for him! That lazy jelly-bellied bum!
But Ted E. finally found his Christmas anyway. I guess that girl actually asked for a real BEAR, not a teddy bear, because she's not at all surprised when it starts moving. Her parents seem to be very accepting of it as well. She spins around in a circle holding Ted E. and turns into a rotoscoped silhouette of a girl twirling a bear, while some chorus sings about Christmas and more hippie-styled words like "JOY" float onscreen.........and, uh, she must've died in between this special and Bear Scare. Or been kidnapped. Or maybe she grew up and left Ted E. behind in a box at Tri-County Charities.
Why didn't it fit in?